1. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 5)
The dual-international jumps four places but the jump is entirely justified after one of the more dominant first halves seen from a second-rower in recent times, combined with the poor play against the Warriors of the halves ranked one and two last week.
Sonny Bill was on fire following two quiet showings with 15 runs for 151 metres, three offloads, five tackle busts, two line breaks and a try with 28 tackles, one miss, no errors or penalties.
Not only that, his second phase play led indirectly to one try and nearly another, while he put one huge hit on a Warriors front rower in the second half and gave the Roosters a lead they didn’t deserve.
And finally, if you haven’t seen SBW on Vine, do yourself a favour and check it out if you want to see SBW say something that doesn’t involve the words “one” and “percenter”.
2. Michael Jennings (LW: 4)
It’s his phenomenal defence though which sees the Origin centre rise two spots. He made 20 tackles without a miss, including six one-on-one hits that, had he missed, would have led to an overlap. He also managed five tackle busts and 105 metres in those five runs, and was a threat each time he touched it.
The Roosters need to ensure he gets the ball — and therein lies the pickle. With Jenko on the left and SBW on the right, if one is on fire the other sees far less ball than normal. It’s up to Maloney and Pearce to ensure the attack is split evenly between their two strike weapons.
3. James Maloney (LW: 1)
The BBQ made some runs but this was his worst game with the Roosters — the six missed tackles against the Eels weren’t as ineffective as this.
He had 13 runs for 96 metres but his kicking game was wildly ineffective after a great showing a week earlier. The kick which eventually led to the Fisiiahi try was a metre or two short of a target who wasn’t in good position anyway (Tupou), while his long game went missing for the most part.
Also, he didn’t get the ball to Jennings enough, which may have been partly to do with a swarming Warriors team that was playing to an eight-metre rule but which wasn’t helped by Maloney electing to run it instead of pass.
Defensively he was solid but in this game we needed points — points Jennings might have been able to create given the scintillating touch he’s been in.
4. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 2)
MP7’s fifth tackle options were very poor, but he still managed to set up Sam Moa’s line break with a beautiful touch pass and threw the final pass for Sonny Bill’s try — an in-the-line beauty which is fast becoming his trademark.
However, the fifth tackle option to go the blind side to a fullback who was too shallow, with the ball eventually trickling to a flat-footed Shaun Kenny-Dowall who put a poor grubber through for Manu Vatuvei’s eventual 90-metre try.
MP7 ran it more than usual, with six runs for 48 metres, which suggests the 7-8 metre rule adjudicated by messrs James and Klein hampered early outside ball frpm the half as it did with the BBQ.
Gotta love that Klein fellow.
5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: 3); and 6. Daniel Tupou (LW: 7)
The Sheck did everything he could to bust the line but an improved Warriors defensive line stopped him from ever putting his head back for a long sprint. He had an equal game-high 16 runs for 145 metres with his mandatory three tackle busts and a line break, while defensively he did his job better than a week before when Ken Sio crossed out wide on an open wing — although he was only forced to make the one tackle.
His game combined with the sup-par positional play from his captain against the Warriors will do nothing to quell the calls from many Roosters fans to move him immediately to fullback.
Toops also tried his butt off to get something happening, and his flick-pass offload enabled the touch-pass from MP7 to Moa. He ran it 10 times for 115 metres with that offload, four tackle busts, but with two missed tackles and five completes.
His game was nullified somewhat by some poor kicking to his wing and was overshadowed by his impressive opposite, Ngani Laumape, who ran for 183 metres off 16 runs with a try.
Regardless, his improvement since round one has been laid out for everyone to see, and its only a matter of time before rep honours of some kind beckon.
7. Sam Moa (LW: NR)
Victa returned from a six game absence to rocket right ahead of Boyd Cordner and Luke O’Donnell with one of the most impressive returns from injury from a Roosters player in a long, long time.
Every hit-up was felt, every tackle hurt, and Jacob Lillyman will be nursing that jaw of his for a long time following a collision louder than a submissive at his first S&M meeting. Not a single ounce of fuck was given by Moa for the health of the opposition or for his body following a long lay-off.
He made 112 metres off 10 runs, with a line-break and the exact opposite of a step when he drew the fullback by running straight over him before offloading for Mini’s try. He played just 25 minutes but all of them were felt, and he made 10 tackles to boot. He’s been missed.
8. Boyd Cordner (LW: 6)
Boyd did his best to hold off a huge forward pack. He made 38 tackles in just 58 minutes but in attack he was almost non-existent, with just five runs for 42 metres with two tackle busts.
He was let down my his halves who were both off their game in directing forwards around the paddock, but that should never stop a player like him from searching for it. He was overshadowed by almost every other forward except for Aidan Guerra.
And does he always have to remind me of Charlie Baileygates with that chin of his?
9. Luke O’Donnell (LW: 8)
Luke did nothing wrong to drop a spot really, after running it for 107 metres off 11 hit-ups with an offload, three tackle busts and 33 tackles with the one miss in 50 minutes against the Warriors. It was a big improvement from the week before (seven runs for 60 metres)
But one has to wonder how the grind and increased minutes is affecting the body of the oft-injured 32-year-old following shoulder surgery?
10. Mitchell Aubusson (LW: 9)
Mitch missed a crucial tackle with a poor read on Elijah Taylor for the game’s first try but was more involved in attack and defence than in recent weeks, with nine runs for 72 metres with two offloads and a tackle bust while always looking a threat to break the line.
In defence he made 34 tackles and just the one miss — but it was a big one.
Jake Friend, who tackled his heart out — 49 in 73 minutes; and Marty Kennedy, who in the past two weeks has provided the go-forward many know he is capable of and was rewarded by being named 18th man for the Queensland squad.